Systematic Review of Supported Housing Literature 1993 – 2008
Rogers, E. Sally
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Supported housing for individuals with severe mental illness strives to provide the services necessary to place and keep individuals in independent housing that is integrated into the community and in which the consumer has choice and control over his or her services and supports. Supported housing can be contrasted to an earlier model called the “linear residential approach” in which individuals are moved from the most restrictive settings (e.g., inpatient settings) through a series of more independent settings (e.g., group homes, supervised apartments) and then finally to independent housing. This approach has been criticized as punishing the client due to frequent moves, and as being less likely to result in independent housing. In the supported housing model (Anthony & Blanch, 1988) consumers have choice and control over their living environment, their treatment, and supports (e.g., case management, mental health and substance abuse services). Supports are flexible and faded in and out depending on needs. Results of this systematic review of supported housing suggest that there are several well-controlled studies of supported housing and several studies conducted with less rigorous designs. Overall, our synthesis suggests that supported housing can improve the living situation of individuals who are psychiatrically disabled, homeless and with substance abuse problems. Results show that supported housing can help people stay in apartments or homes up to about 80% of the time over an extended period. These results are contrary to concerns expressed by proponents of the linear residential model and housing models that espoused more restrictive environments. Results also show that housing subsidies or vouchers are helpful in getting and keeping individuals housed. Housing services appear to be cost effective and to reduce the costs of other social and clinical services. In order to be most effective, intensive case management services (rather than traditional case management) are needed and will generally lead to better housing outcomes. Having access to affordable housing and having a service system that is well-integrated is also important. Providing a person with supported housing reduces the likelihood that they will be re-hospitalized, although supported housing does not always lead to reduced psychiatric symptoms. Supported housing can improve clients’ quality of life and satisfaction with their living situation. Providing supported housing options that are of decent quality is important in order to keep people housed and satisfied with their housing. In addition, rapid entry into housing, with the provision of choices is critical. Program and clinical supports may be able to mitigate the social isolation that has sometimes been associated with supported housing.